In January 2023, a group of five oil & gas giants — ConocoPhillips, Equinor, Shell, TotalEnergies, and Vår Energi — signed an agreement to participate in the development of a digital spare parts inventory platform, called the Industry Collaboration Project (ICP). Joined later in 2023 by Australian firm Woodside Energy, ICP has now also welcomed ExxonMobil and BP to its ranks.
At the center of the project is software as a services (SaaS) provider Fieldnode, a 2020 spinoff of supply chain digitalization firm Fieldmade AS. In addition to the standardization of digital part files for and decarbonization of the oil & gas industry, a major purpose of the ICP’s creation is to enhance supply chain resilience by enabling production closer to the point-of-need.
For just about as long as I’ve been writing at 3DPrint.com, I’ve been arguing that AM will be pivotal to the future of the oil & gas sector. Lately, it has been starting to look like the oil & gas sector will be just as pivotal to the future of AM.
The addition of ExxonMobil and BP to Fieldnode’s digital inventory project is one of the best pieces of evidence of that so far — and not solely because they’re such enormous, wealthy organizations. Equally, their involvement confirms how serious the oil & gas sector as a whole is about to get regarding the acceleration its AM activity, because of the timing of this announcement against the backdrop of Houthi attacks on global maritime traffic through the Red Sea.
In December 2023, BP was one of the first companies — and perhaps the first non-shipping company — to pause its shipments through the Red Sea in response to the Houthi attacks. Since the Middle East is responsible for well over a quarter of global oil production and holds nearly half of global oil reserves, it would be difficult to overstate the significance to the global economy of any long-term disruptions in the Red Sea energy supply chain.
The relevance here is that the concern isn’t just getting petroleum and fuel products out of the Red Sea, but also, getting oilfield services equipment into the Gulf region. Along those lines, oil giants can be expected to prioritize the buildup of as much manufacturing capacity as possible, as close to the point-of-need as possible. In turn, this will naturally increase digital inventory management in all of the world’s other oil markets, as the Middle East is sufficiently dense and strategically located to catalyze the scaling of digital manufacturing technologies everywhere else, once the process has been initiated there.
Images courtesy of Fieldnode
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